Prop­erty Mar­ket

Es­cape the rat race at these his­toric Suf­folk houses

Country Life Every Week - - Contents - Penny Churchill

Penny Churchill es­capes the rat race with some his­toric Suf­folk houses

THE late Sir Paul Newall, well­known in the City of Lon­don as an in­de­fati­ga­ble for­mer in­ter­na­tional stock­bro­ker, Lord Mayor of Lon­don and first Mas­ter of the Wor­ship­ful Com­pany of In­ter­na­tional Bankers, once de­scribed his pas­times as fly-fish­ing, shoot­ing, wa­ter-ski­ing and ‘trees’. Sir Paul’s pas­sion for the lat­ter is ev­i­dent through­out his won­der­fully se­cluded Grove Park es­tate at Yox­ford, near the Suf­folk her­itage coast, which was his fam­ily’s cher­ished coun­try retreat from the late 1970s un­til his death last year and whose 30-odd acres of his­toric park­land boasts an es­tab­lished belt of mag­nif­i­cent trees around its en­tire perime­ter and else­where through­out the prop­erty.

Grove Park, listed Grade II, is now for sale through the Ip­swich of­fice of Sav­ills (01473 234831), at a guide price of £3.75 mil­lion and one of the con­cerns ex­pressed by Lady Newall is that a fu­ture owner might not ap­pre­ci­ate the sig­nif­i­cance of one of her late hus­band’s favourite trees—a young cedar of Le­banon pre­sented to him by the Le­banese am­bas­sador in recog­ni­tion of his ef­forts to pro­mote Bri­tish bank­ing in that part of the world.

The charm­ing east Suf­folk vil­lage of Yox­ford, 25 miles north of Ip­swich, and eight miles from the coastal towns of both South­wold and Alde­burgh, is easily com­mutable from Lon­don, yet a world away from the hus­tle and bus­tle of city life. Ac­cord­ing to lo­cal records, the vil­lage, whose name means ‘a ford where oxen can pass’, stands on the old road from Ip­swich to Low­est­oft and Yar­mouth, in a well­wooded dis­trict known as the Gar­den of Suf­folk and ‘is sur­rounded by a beau­ti­ful coun­try, in­ter­spersed with many gen­tle­men’s seats’. Among them is Grove Park, de­scribed in the early 1900s as ‘an an­cient brick man­sion sur­rounded by plea­sure gar­dens and a well wooded park’.

Ac­cord­ing to its list­ing, Grove Park dates from the late 16th cen­tury and was re­built in the 1770s by Eleazar Davy, who, de­spite com­ing from a hum­ble farm­ing back­ground, worked his way up the so­cial lad­der, be­com­ing High Sher­iff of the county in 1770. Shortly af­ter­wards, he bought Grove Park (then known as The Grove) and de­vel­oped it into his ‘Man­sion House’, pos­si­bly to the de­signs of James Wy­att; at about the same time, he had his por­trait painted by Gains­bor­ough.

Hav­ing no chil­dren, he left his en­tire es­tate, in­clud­ing The Grove, to his nephew, David Elisha Davy, a Suf­folk an­ti­quar­ian, who, in turn, left the prop­erty to his sis­ter Lucy on his death in 1851. From the late 1800s, Grove Park was owned by the Lo­max fam­ily, who were suc­cess­ful bar­ris­ters in Lon­don and Suf­folk.

In the 20th cen­tury, the man­sion was sold a num­ber of times, be­fore Sir Paul and Lady Newall bought it in 1978. Lady Newall’s mother, the for­mi­da­ble Dame Paddy Rids­dale, worked with

Ian Flem­ing in the di­rec­torate of naval in­tel­li­gence dur­ing the Sec­ond World War and was the in­spi­ra­tion for Miss Moneypenny.

Ac­cord­ing to selling agent Tom Or­ford of Sav­ills, the Ne­walls car­ried out a thor­ough ren­o­va­tion ‘at the out­set’ of the 14,000sq ft house and gar­dens, in­clud­ing the lovely walled kitchen gar­den with its or­angery and green­house. Ap­proached via a long grav­elled drive­way, Grove Park, now some­what el­e­gantly faded, over­looks its splen­did park and has ac­com­mo­da­tion on three floors, in­clud­ing a self-con­tained ground-floor wing, and a sec­ond-floor nurs­ery wing with a play­room and kitchen.

The ground-floor re­cep­tion rooms — all light and well-pro­por­tioned, with high ceil­ings—in­clude en­trance and re­cep­tion halls, four prin­ci­pal re­cep­tion rooms, a con­ser­va­tory and a study. In all, there are nine main bedrooms, three sec­ondary bedrooms and five bathrooms.

A few miles west of Yox­ford along the A1120, Jack­son- Stops & Staff (01473 218218) quote a guide price of £2.5m for another his­toric Suf­folk gem, the Grade Ii*-listed Earl So­ham Lodge, in the vil­lage of that name, 3½ miles from Fram­ling­ham and 14 miles from Ip­swich.

Built on one of about 6,000 moated sites in Eng­land, which were pri­mar­ily de­signed as pres­ti­gious mano­rial res­i­dences with the moat in­tended as a sta­tus sym­bol rather than a mil­i­tary de­fence, Earl So­ham Lodge was prob­a­bly built as a hunt­ing lodge by the Dukes of Nor­folk and Suf­folk on their Fram­ling­ham es­tate, which was sold to John Corn­wal­lis by Thomas Howard, Earl of Suf­folk, in about 1600. Its list­ing main­tains that the for­mer manor is 16th cen­tury on the left-hand side and to the rear, with a front range added by the Corn­wal­lis fam­ily in 1789 and a rear wing added in the early 1900s.

In an in­ter­est­ing par­al­lel with the his­tory of Grove Park, the park of Earl So­ham Lodge is scat­tered with an­cient oak trees, whose strength and tough­ness is leg­endary and whose con­tem­po­raries were widely used by the Bri­tish navy to build their war­ships. In fact, the vil­lage it­self was al­ways noted for the size of its mag­nif­i­cent tim­ber and lo­cal folk­lore has it that, in 1670, a sin­gle oak tree was large enough to be made into a size­able dwelling house.

Set within the im­pres­sive moat, a reg­is­tered na­tional mon­u­ment in its own right, and ap­proached over a twinarched bridge, Earl So­ham Lodge, with its hand­some Ge­or­gian façade, is sur­rounded by 7.6 acres of part­walled and moated gar­dens, with open grounds lead­ing to the oak park­land and me­dieval fish ponds be­yond.

In­side the house, which was sub­stan­tially ren­o­vated by the pre­vi­ous owner some 10 years ago—and more re­cently by the present ven­dor— 7,918sq ft of coolly el­e­gant ac­com­mo­da­tion in­cludes a su­perb pan­elled Tu­dor drawing room over­look­ing the moat, two clas­si­cally pro­por­tioned, high-ceilinged Ge­or­gian re­cep­tion rooms set ei­ther side of a gal­leried re­cep­tion hall and an im­pres­sive, 33ft-long kitchen/ break­fast room. Set off the for­mer ser­vice hall is a pan­elled morn­ing room with French win­dows open­ing onto the gar­dens.

The fo­cal point of the first floor is a spa­cious li­brary land­ing over­look­ing the rear court­yard, off which are ar­ranged six main bedrooms, three bath/shower rooms and a large mas­ter bed­room with a new bath/shower room. A fur­ther eight for­mer staff rooms on the sec­ond floor could be re­fur­bished to pro­vide fur­ther bed­room ac­com­mo­da­tion if re­quired.

Fi­nally, a range of well-screened for­mer farm build­ings nearby houses a num­ber of small busi­nesses that are sep­a­rately owned and in­clude a vet’s prac­tice, a dog-groom­ing cen­tre and a chi­ro­prac­tor. The cur­rent own­ers re­port that they ‘have never found the busi­nesses to be in­tru­sive and have found them to be rather handy’.

Far from the bus­tle of the city: serene Grove Park at Yox­ford is sur­rounded by ma­ture park­land. £ 3.75m

The ground­floor re­cep­tion rooms are all light and well­pro­por­tioned, with high ceil­ings

Earl So­ham Lodge at Earl So­ham has been stylishly ren­o­vated by the cur­rent own­ers ( be­low) and is ap­proached over a twinarched bridge cross­ing the moat. £ 2.5m

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